Monday, November 27, 2006

Does celibacy make sense

Ed Snowdon
Portland, ME

If celibacy has such value, why isn't it working so well in the Roman Catholic Church?

70% of Catholics do not attend church according to CARA, a RC sociology group. Family-based churches with married ministers have much better stats to offer.

One out of 3 priests has left the corporate priesthood to enter into the more normal lifestyle of marriage. What does this say about the sexual demographics of the priesthood? Are straight priests fleeing a gay culture?

Many parishioners have a hard time contacting their priests when they need them, despite the claim that celibacy frees a priest to be available to his people 24/7.

Thousands of RC parishes across the country are without a resident priest. How can celibacy fix this worsening situation?
Father Donald Cozzens says that the priesthood is becoming a gay profession and cites a 60% prevalence of gay priests. 25,000 straight priests have left to marry. How many gay priests have left the corporate priesthood to partner with another man?

Roman Catholicism has hosted the worst institutional child sex abuse atrocity in modern history. Isn't it counterintuitive to suggest that celibacy and homosexuality have nothing to do with this reality that continues to unfold on a weekly basis?

Richard Sipe, a psychologist who has studied the priesthood for close to 30 years, states that 1% of priests achieve the total continece required of celibacy. The other 99% go through cycles of breaking their vow, confessing to another priest, short term repentance, and re-offending. Is that a good and healthy celibate lifestyle?

Perhaps mandatory celibacy in the Roman Catholic Church serves other functions that are not readily visible to the donating Catholic.

Concepts can be fascinating. Results are what really count, and the numbers don't look good to me. Faith is a completely different issue.


Mark Bosse said...

"Roma locuta est, causa finita est." That's all that needs to be said. If you don't except that, you simply are not Catholic.

Rebel Girl said...

I think we need to be very careful when talking about this issue not to mix up homosexuality and pedophilia and not to demonize priests who are homosexual -- many of whom are faithful to their vows and most (at least in my experience) kind and caring men and certainly not pedophiles.

The predominance of homosexuality within the pedophilia problem is more likely a result of opportunity -- the fact that the church has encouraged male rather than female altar servers (the youth most likely to be vulnerable to molestation).

I find the writings of Spanish psychologist Pepe Rodriguez useful. In 1995, he published a study titled "La Vida Sexual del Clero". Dr. Rodriguez studied a sample of 354 active priests and other laicized ones. Of these 354 priests, 53% had sexual relationships with adult women, 21% with adult men, 14% with underage boys, and 12% with underage girls. Since Rodriguez only characterizes 7% of the relationships as being "serious sexual abuse of minors" we can even infer that most of the underage relationships are probably with teenagers and probably at least partially consensual (I use this term very advisedly since while we know that teenagers engage in consensual sexual activity, it is still legally considered to be statutory rape).

In addition, Dr. Rodriguez found that most of the priests (64%) had initiated their sexual relationships after the age of 40. Why? Probably because the youthful idealism about the clerical life fades and the reality of the loneliness of this lifestyle becomes too difficult to bear. As the Bible says, God did not intend man to be alone. He makes us long for a loving companion with whom we can share our journey through this life.

If you can read Spanish and want to know more about Dr. Rodriguez's study, it's on the Web at

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many gay teens were introduced to gay sex by gay priests who were "counseling" them?

If gay priests say they are living a sexless life of celibacy, yet they are sexually active, they set themselves up for blackmail and extortion by the hard core sexual predators. How many bishops have been blackmailed by predators who threatened to out them with specific incidences of their secret sex lives with other men?

Rebel Girl said...

To Anonymous: In answer to your first question, probably not very many statistically-speaking. The general scientific consensus is that a person's basic sexual orientation is inherent and cannot be changed by one person or encounter or even years of "counseling" (here I am referring to the faith-based practitioners who purport to "help" people change their orientation from gay to straight).

Your second point is well-taken, however. Priests who violate their vows, whether with men or women, open themselves up to blackmail and extortion -- not to mention legitimate demands for child support in the case of straight relationships that produce offspring.

To Mark: History is full of Catholics who disagree with Rome on various points, including -- in the case of celibacy -- a fair number of its own priests and bishops.